It seems Obsidian Entertainment is stubborn and insists on being open and upfront with its fans by not obscuring facts, keeping back goodies and building up false hype.  How old school of you, Obsidian!

Sarcasm aside, a bevy of new information has surfaced over the last few days. The Project Eternity Kickstarter currently sits at around $2.1 million, meeting nearly all of the original stretch goals, with 17 days still to go.  And with this success has come more updates about the project.

In Update #7Tim Cain covers non-combat abilities and Obsidian’s approach to the subject.  He divides player goals outside combat into four distinct groups, explaining the general types of abilities that will be added into the game to meet them.  As such,  Project Eternity will include abilities for:

  • learning new things, which includes uncovering new information, acquiring arcane knowledge (from mundane potion recipes to demon names) and finding resources
  • traveling through the world, such as improving movement capabilities (eg. sneaking through ruins), faster and safer travel, teleportation and overcoming obstacles such as locks and traps
  • item procurement, which means not only killing to acquire more stuff, but also obtaining loot through less violent means: manufacturing them, purchasing, commissioning or simply stealing
  • companion interaction, including methods of recruiting, improving them and, of course, stopping your friends from dying (or hating you)

Further, Mr Cain elaborates on the design goals for the game, which are particularly interesting.  The most important feature is that non-combat abilities are gained, developed and used separately from combat skills. That means a separate pool of points and resources for each set of abilities.  Second in significance is the aim to avoid penalizing players for not participating in combat.  Obsidian’s plan is summarized as, “ We plan to reward you for your accomplishments, not for your body count.“

It goes without saying that Project Eternity is planned to make all non-combat skills purposeful and offer plenty of opportunities for their use (which was an issue in Fallout, where skills such as Traps, First Aid and Gambling were practically useless).  Also of note is the plan to allow for avoiding combat with clever use of non-combat skills, such as re-sanctifying a defiled cemetery to stop the undead from spawning.

Concept art for Edair, a human fighter tied to the game's narrative.

The next update, #8, covers Digital Tiers recently added to the Kickstarter campaign, a novella planned for the game and a new element of the $2.2 million stretch goal.

The new Digital Tier ($110) gives the contributor early beta access to the game, thanks in the credits, a postcard thanking you their pledge (sent physically) along with all the other digital benefits of the $140 Tier.

The novella planned for the game is the result of Chris Avellone‘s pledge, made out of respect and gratitude for the overwhelming support Project Eternity has received from the fans.  Set in the game’s universe, it will be made available to anyone who pledges $50 and up.

Lastly, the new $2.2 million stretch goal.  It’s a simple, yet major objective. Should Obsidian reach the $2.2 million mark, the game will be translated into French, German, and Spanish, with further language support planned if next stretch goals are met.  That’s it for Update #8.

Update #9 covers the $2.3 million stretch goal for Project Eternity - special playing modes for the game and the inclusion of godlike races.  Upon hitting the $2.3 million mark, Obsidian plans to add three special modes aimed at veterans of role-playing game: Expert Mode, Trial of Iron, and Path of the Damned.

Expert Mode will disable all of the common ease-of-use gameplay elements like the display of skill thresholds, influence/reputation modifiers and enable more demanding gameplay elements in and out of combat.  A rather vague hint is given that one of those elements would be gold having weight (which hopefully means banks will be in the game, like in Might & Magic VI: Mandate of Heaven).

Trial of Iron is similar to Temple of Elemental Evil‘s Ironman mode: the player can only save once during the entire game.  The save is deleted upon death of the player character.  Sounds fun.

Path of the Damned, the last mode, is a spiritual successor to Icewind Dale‘s Heart of Fury mode. What does this mean? Simple. While in normal gameplay the number, experience level and type of enemies met by the player’s party are adjusted based on the chosen difficulty level, those that walk the Path of the Damned are truly forsaken: they face all enemies from all difficulty levels. Oh, did we mention that on top of massive opposition, the combat mechanics are amplified for a much more brutal experience?

Obsidian also puts a twist on the modes: players will be able to play through the game with multiple challenge modes enabled (they can only be enabled at the beginning of the game, however) and will be able to customize them, selecting features they want enabled.

The other part of the $2.3 million stretch goal are the Godlike races. Although described as generally similar to planetouched folk of Dungeons & Dragons (aasimar, tieflings, genasi etc.), the devil is in the detail. Godlike races are people that were touched by one or more of the deities meddling in Project Eternity‘s world. Their appearance may vary, but they are unmistakeably otherworldly at closer look, possessing physical gifts that come with supernatural blessings and curses of their own. This causes strong reactions in people, both highly positive and highly negative.

Last comes in Update #10, with Chris Avellone further explaining the subject of characterization in the Project Eternity universe, as a follow up to his insightful blog post.

Preceded by a short segment on the State of the Office and Chris Avellone’s 42nd birthday (Happy Birthday, Mr Avellone!), the video log goes into more detail on how Obsidian approaches the problem of creating companions, their role in the game and relations with the player.

That’s it for this roundup of Eternity updates. Stay tuned for more in the nearby future!